You’ve noticed your feline friend has been scratching quite a bit the last few days, and you’re starting to worry. An indoor cat scratching and chewing on its fur incessantly can leave you scratching your head: What could possibly be the cause? It can’t be fleas if the cat doesn’t go outdoors… right?
Unfortunately, it can be.
But don’t panic—while the idea of fleas on any sweet kitten (indoor or outdoor) can feel worrisome, identifying and treating cat fleas is relatively quick and easy. Ideally, it is best to catch this before the fleas make your cat sick.
In this guide, we’re walking on four legs through everything you need to know about cat fleas: how they start, diagnosing the issue, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them in the future.
How Do Cats Get Fleas?
If you think your cat might have fleas, you might be getting hung up on the question of how in the world it could’ve happened in the first place—especially if your cat rarely leaves his favorite spot on the couch.
How outdoor cats wind up with fleas is less mysterious: your adventurous pal likely brushed up against a tree or shrub carrying an adult flea, and the pest took the opportunity to latch onto its cozy fur.
As for homebody felines? Indoor cats typically attract fleas in three distinct ways:
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7 Signs Your Cat May Have Fleas
Before moving forward with a flea treatment regimen, it’s important to confirm that their distress is caused by fleas in the first place. So how do you know if your cat’s scratching or biting results from fleas and not some other condition?
You can, of course, take little Cheeto and Dorito to the vet and let the experts check. But if you’re looking to know right away, here are some signs you can keep an eye out for at home:
- More frequent scratching than usual
- More frequent self-grooming than usual
- Unusual hair patchiness or hair loss
- Red or irritated skin beneath the fur
- An unusual lack of energy
- Pale gums
- Black specs on the cat’s fur or bedding
Some cats allergic to flea saliva may develop flea allergy dermatitis. Symptoms of flea bite hypersensitivity and dermatitis include intense itching and wounds that look like “racing stripes”.
Paying notice to these signs can help you determine whether your furry friend has fleas—but in some cases, cats show no signs of flea-related distress at all.
This is why it's essential to learn how to identify what flea bites look like and know which distress behaviors to look out for.
How to Check Your Cat for Flea Bites
If your cat is showing several signs that they might be fending off fleas, your next step is to look for signs of flea bites beneath their fur. We don’t want you or Tater Tot suffering for longer than you need to—and you certainly don’t want a full-blown flea infestation in your home!
So what do flea bites look like? Typically, they show the following characteristics:
- Flea bites look similar to mosquito bites on humans
- They’re usually small, red, raised bumps on the skin
- They often appear in groups of twos and threes
Your loving kitten is probably craving your soothing touch right about now, so it probably won’t be hard to snag him for a quick investigation of his fur.
Follow these steps to check your cat for fleas and flea bites:
- Place a white disposable towel on your lap. Put on plastic gloves, and place your cat onto your lap on top of the towel.
- Carefully run through your cat's fur in sections with a flea comb or fine-toothed comb.
Look for black specks between the comb's teeth or at the root of your cat's fur and red bumps on their skin.
- Shake the comb off onto a wet cloth. If you can’t see visible black spots, flea particles will turn red on the wet cloth, indicating they’re hiding in your cat’s fur.
How to Get Rid of Cat Fleas
If you check your cat for fleas or flea bites and don’t find any, but your kitten is showing clear signs of fleas, they may still have them. Fleas are only a couple of millimeters long, making them hard to spot.
Fortunately, if you don’t want to make an appointment with the vet, there are some methods for taking matters into your own hands. Here’s how to get rid of cat fleas from the comfort of home:
Ridding Your Home of Fleas
Once they’ve laid their eggs, adult fleas can spread throughout your home and re-invade your cat’s fur as soon as one week after their invasion. This makes it crucial to eradicate them from your home as soon as you remove them from your cat’s fur.
Follow these tips to kick fleas out the door for good:
- Vacuum every day – For the first few weeks after your cat’s flea infestation, vacuum your home every day. Pay special attention to any areas with upholstery or fluffy fabric, like carpet, rugs, couches, or in small spaces like floorboard crevices that fleas could burrow into.
How to Prevent Cat Flea Bites
In matters of both feline and human health, the same principle holds true: prevention is the best medicine. And whether it was seeing those little red bumps on your precious pet or giving your home the biggest scrub-down in its history, implementing some new household habits can help ensure the itching never starts again.
Here are three ways to prevent fleas and flea bites down the line:
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There are some battles with nature no pet owner can quash for good—but the good news is that flea treatment and prevention is relatively fast and easy if you know what to look for.
If you’re a fan of a proactive approach to keeping your kitten purring, PrettyLitter has you covered. We’re not just here to make cat litter smell better and weigh less. We change the way you approach your cat’s health holistically.
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